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Facing the Conflict

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ~ James Baldwin

The notion that we have the ability to change someone (such as their personality, their needs, their values, their core beliefs, their deeply held views) is unrealistic. However, it is realistic that we all have the ability to change – to better understand – our perspectives on an interpersonal conflict including the other person’s part in it. We are able to also face that we contributed to the dynamic including saying or doing things we may not like about ourselves. In the end, if we don’t face what drives our emotions, words and actions and the adverse impact we experienced and caused – nothing really changes.

Admittedly, it is hard to face lots of things about our interpersonal conflicts. As they evolve and our animosity grows, we can easily make up stories to support our views – and find the other person’s wrongness in anything that agrees with our perceptions. We lose perspective, and do an injustice to the other person and ourselves by holding on too tightly to our perspectives and what we think is right.

If you have a dispute in mind in which you know, at some level of consciousness, you are not facing up to some things within it, the following invites you to bring that conflict forward  to answer this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions).

  • What is the situation?
  • What are you telling yourself and others about what occurred?
  • About what are you not being totally honest regarding the perspective you share with others? Why is that?
  • What is the hardest element of this conflict to face?
  • What makes that hard (your answer to the above question)?
  • If you are really honest with yourself, how did you contribute to the dispute – if you didn’t already answer that in response to a previous question?
  • What motivated you to contribute that way (your answer to the last question)?
  • If you were to face how you contributed to the dispute and admit that to the other person, what do you expect might change between you?
  • What do you suppose the other person is not facing? Why might that be?
  • What needs to change so you can forgive? Apologize? Move on?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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THE NEED TO PROVE RIGHTNESS

This quote refers to a common phenomenon for many of us when we are in conflict and the need to be right trumps the possibility of accepting another perspective. Considering alternative ideas as legitimate, backing down, being okay with acknowledging another resolution or way of approaching a matter, being wrong – these and other choices can be elusive when we get stuck in our own rightness. And often, asserting that stance – of having to be right – only serves to support a need to make the other person wrong. That is, it doesn’t facilitate collaborative communications, mutually acceptable resolutions, or a way to reconcile our differences.

It’s not that there’s one reason for asserting our view as the right one – and taking on the job of proving it so. It may be we are  so attached to our perspective that we cannot imagine or accept another outcome as viable. Or, perhaps we already have proof – reasons to believe in our view over the other person’s. Some other reasons that compel this approach may have to do with self-centredness and conceit, hating to be wrong, afraid of being wrong or giving in, disdain for the other person, lack of creativity, openness and flexibility to name a few.

If you have a tendency to assert your perspective rather than change your mind, consider a specific situation when you have done this as you answer the set of questions in this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog.

  • What is the situation about?
  • What is the view (solution, answer) you are asserting?
  • What makes that the right perspective (solution, answer)?
  • Why does the other person not agree with your perspective?
  • What does the other person assert as the solution or answer?
  • What makes their view wrong as far as you are concerned?
  • What makes their view right as far as they are concerned?
  • If you were to give up any part of what you are asserting what part would that be? How would that be for you? For the other person?
  • What part might the other person give up that would make a mutually acceptable  solution more likely (if you like that idea)?
  • What difference does it make to you whether or not you prove your view as the ‘right’ one?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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APOLOGY RIGHT – NOT APOLOGY LITE

So much is written and discussed in the field of conflict management about the importance of apologies to help people resolve their interpersonal disputes and move on. On the other hand, many commentators in the legal world express the perspective that apologies are an admission of liability and so, steer away anything that sounds like accepting fault. In either case, it’s usually not the words of an apology in and of themselves that help us find resolution about a dispute. Various other factors play a part such as answers to questions like: Was it genuine? Was it timely? Was it empathetic? Was it honest?

The reality is people on the receiving end are not always ready for an apology – we might still be processing our hurt about what was said or done; we might not be otherwise ready to move on; we might consider the behaviour exhibited as unforgivable. Some have heard too many apologies from the other person for the same behaviours, and feel trust has broken down irreparably.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog considers the importance of  the quote above which is reminiscent of another  common quote – ‘actions speak louder than words’. The following set of questions invites you to consider an apology you want to make for something you said or did, and also, one in which another person made an apology to you for something they said or did – but you have not accepted it.

  • What is the conflict about – the one for which you want to express an apology? What do you want to apologize for?
  • What might the other person say they want you to apologize for that may not be the same as your answer to the above (if anything)?
  • If you were to try out the apology (just in our conversation here as a practice) what would you say to make it ‘right’?
  • How might that apology as you expressed it be received by the other person (your answer to the above question)? If you don’t think the apology, as described in the previous question, would be well received what else might you say that might be?
  • What actions or words will you use – or not use going forward – that will reflect the sincerity of your apology – something or some things you will change so you won’t contribute to a repeat of the same sort of interaction?
  • What dynamic between you and the other person in this scenario make the change(s) you plan challenging? How might you overcome the challenge(s)?
  • When you consider another dispute for which someone has apologized to you for their words or conduct what happened in that situation? For what specifically did the other person apologize?
  • What still lingers for you that indicates you have not forgiven, or you’re not ready to accept the apology, or you remain wary of the other person (lost trust etc.)?
  • What change(s) on the other person’s part would you like to see (or feel) such that you would experience the apology as ‘right’?
  • What might make the above change(s) challenging for them? What does that mean for you?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution
#apology

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Asking for Help When in Conflict

Pooh is a lot smarter than I am. I admit – I am reticent to ask for help when I am going through a bad time – including an interpersonal or (for that matter) an internal conflict. Truthfully, I seem to prefer to be there for others but, have trouble asking for help myself. My reasons vary – depending on the situation.

At times, I am not always sure what I want or need. Or, I feel ashamed about how I interacted and am worried about being judged (I’m already doing enough of that!). Sometimes, I don’t want to be seen as unable to manage the situation; other times, I am not sure I am able to express what’s really going on for me. Also, I don’t find everyone listens well, or can curb a tendency to give their advice, albeit well-meaning. And then, there are some who personalize my situation by telling me all about a situation when the exact same thing happened to them! Know what I mean?

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to explore why you are not asking for help and what sort of help you would find most important regarding a current  interpersonal conflict that you are agonizing about. Or, maybe the conflict happened in the past and you are still ruminating about it. In either case, if you are feeling reluctant to ask for help I suggest you consider if these questions shed some light on a way forward.

  • What is your interpersonal conflict about?
  • What sorts of things are you agonizing about most?
  • What else feels especially hard about this particular conflict?
  • What unresolved feelings linger for you? What else remains unresolved?
  • What themes are there about the sorts of things you are agonizing about with respect to this conflict and others you have experienced?
  • What do you need or want right now in the form of help?  What makes that or those things particularly important for you?
  • What makes it hard to ask for help? What are the themes about why you feel reluctant to ask for help with this and other conflicts?
  • When you have been in similar situations, what sort of help has been most meaningful? Who or what has been most helpful?
  • If you were to reach out about this conflict, who might you call on? What could you say since you are feeling reluctant about reaching out?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#solution-focused
#disputeresolution

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Changing a Conflict’s Ending

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ~ C.S. Lewis

This is one of those timeless quotes that applies to so many aspects of our lives – and is especially timely, these days. As we try to manage our lives during the pandemic, while wondering what life will be like going forward, we have an opportunity to be purposeful about both in positive ways.

Granted the ‘new normal’ seems elusive just yet, and the truth for me, and most people I know, is that life feels unsettled as we try to adapt and consider what next. One other truth is that these days are a chance to ‘reset’ – to change things that weren’t quite as we wanted pre-Covoid-19. Our choices might seem limited right now. But, it is still a good time to take stock – to be curious – and begin the journey of considering and making decisions that align with what we really want and need – to be better, different, more exciting, more interesting, more joyful, more loving, more compassionate, more dignified – or whatever (else) we are wanting and needing!

The same approach goes for our interpersonal conflicts – the theme of this week’s blog. As with other aspects of our lives, when it comes to our ‘fights’ with  friends, partners, colleagues, co-workers, family members, clients and others we have choices about how we react, how we manage ourselves, how we set our minds and intentions to engage with the other person, and so on. It doesn’t usually feel that we have such choices  in the midst of a conflict. But the reality is, if we consciously reflect on changing the way we look at the other person, ourselves, the issues in dispute AND how we interact we can effect a shift in the dynamic to be less fractious and more solution-focused. In this way, we are more purposeful about the ending that we can co-create with the other person.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider an argument (disagreement, conflict, dispute) you are currently having with another person. Or, if you are not in an interpersonal conflict these days, consider one you have had that remains unresolved as you answer these questions:

  • What is the conflict about? Where does the conflict appear to be going? What ending do you fear?
  • What are you currently thinking about the other person? What emotions are you experiencing?
  • How might the other person describe what’s going on between you?
  • What might the person be thinking about you? What emotions might they be experiencing?
  • What are you most curious about?
  • How would you like matters to be resolved going forward? What do you want for the relationship?
  • How might the other person want matters resolved? What do you think their want is for your relationship?
  • What choices do you have to make a shift in what you are thinking and feeling to change the ending that you fear? How might you be able to settle things in a way that is mutually acceptable (or that satisfies you in the long run if you aren’t wanting a mutually satisfactory resolution)?
  • What might you say to the other person that they wouldn’t expect to hear from you – that would help shift their thinking and feeling about you – for the better (if that is what you want)?
  • What else might you say or do to change the ending to be one about which you feel satisfied?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#solution-focused
#wayforward
#disputeresolution

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment